As Kevin Pietersen takes the first steps towards resurrecting his international career, the cricket world remains divided on whether or not the exiled England batsman could or should return to the Test arena.
Pietersen scored 170 in a County Championship warm-up match for Surrey last week, before managing just 17 on Sunday in the Oval-based outfit’s season opener against Glamorgan.
Despite Pietersen being dismissed early, his new county teammate Kumar Sangakkara says the South African-born batsman is a proven match-winner and, if it was up to him, he’d pick the 101-Test veteran for England again.
"I know from playing against Kevin when he came to Sri Lanka the last time,” Sangakkara said after his century against Glamorgan on Sunday.
“With England 1-0 down, the way Kevin Pietersen came into that last Test with that hundred was magnificent.
"He is an out-and-out match-winner.
“I want to watch a match-winner out there, I would want a match-winner in my side so hopefully they can iron out their differences and Kevin Pietersen can come back and play.
"When you have a batsman of that ability I reckon even the side would like him there.
“It's not my call to make or my place to comment on it but at the end of the day I just hope that they iron out their differences."
Will we ever see KP do this in an England kit again? // Getty Images
Sangakkara has aligned himself with those in KP’s corner, joining Michael Vaughan, Andrew Flintoff and Australia Test captain Michael Clarke.
Clarke, who will line-up next to Pietersen next summer with the Melbourne Stars, says he expects England’s all-time leading run-scorer to appear in the Ashes.
“Yeah, I do think he could be at the Ashes,” Clarke said when asked whether Pietersen could feature for England this winter.
“He’s scoring enough runs, he’s made it very clear he wants to play and now it will come down to England selectors and the England board making their decision.
“At the moment from the Australians’ perspective I’m happy he’s not playing because he’s a wonderful player.”
While Pietersen has a number of advocates willing him to return to Alastair Cook’s side, the 34-year-old also has his detractors.
Former Australia captain Steve Waugh says not only should Pietersen not play for England again, he is no longer the “great player” he once was.
"England have got to make a clean break and look forward to the future," said Waugh told the Daily Mirror.
"Sometimes you have to have short-term pain to get the long-term gain.
"I don't think he's a great player right now. Setting aside all the other things, I don't think his form warranted a spot in the England side.
“He may have been a great player but I wouldn't class him as one now."
Andrew Strauss, who captained Pietersen 46 times in Test cricket, fears the attention surrounding the South African-born batsman could derail England’s hopes of regaining the Ashes.
"It’s very important for English cricket to move on from the Kevin Pietersen situation,” Strauss said during a Lord’s podcast.
"That threatens to envelop everything at the moment.
“The story has become more of a distraction than actually him playing or not, it's become that big.
"The ECB and England team’s efforts to move on from him haven’t worked so far, [but] by winning, that will allow them to move forward.
"If you look at it from pure cricketing logic, after this Ashes is over, it’s quite hard to see a situation where Kevin Pietersen would come back into the side,” he said.
"You’re building to the next Ashes in two and half years’ time and the World Cup in 2019.
"I think if you were to bring Kevin Pietersen back it would be a short-term measure to help you win the Ashes but I can’t see that happening personally because there are too many bridges to build in too short a period of time.
"I think after the Ashes the story does move forward at that point."
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Even if Pietersen does post century after century for Surrey, England’s Test middle order is firing on all cylinders and would be hard pressed to accommodate the experienced right-hander.
First-drop Gary Balance has scored four centuries in his nine Tests for England, including 122 in the second innings of the first Test in Antigua last week.
Ian Bell, at 33, is the rock of the order batting at No.4, while Joe Root has been the Three Lions top performer with the bat over the past 12 months.
Allrounders Moeen Ali, with his permanent part-time off-spinners, and Ben Stokes occupy No.6 and No.7 in the order, leaving only the vulnerable opening positions available for Pietersen, a place where he’s batted only once in 181 Test innings.
The form of openers Jonathan Trott and Cook is a concern for head coach Peter Moore, but the middle order is set in stone, according to national selector James Whitaker.
"We haven't had discussions at all about Kevin," Whitaker told Sky Sports after naming the West Indies tour squad last month.
"This last 12 months we've been successfully rebuilding the Test team and he's not part of our plans.
"We've produced some good middle-order players with Gary Ballance, Joe Root and Ian Bell continuing to perform well so we are happy with where we are in the middle order."